I work part time in the NHS and part time self-employed here. For me, like everybody else in the country, it’s been quite a fortnight.
Last week I was really busy with calls to Green Tree from folks who were really scared. Most of them weren’t in a position to pay me, and I was happy to be able to do something useful and help them to manage a bit better.
This week has been quieter and my days at the hospital especially have been weirdly, eerily quiet. I have spent my time mainly trying to help people over the phone and prevent unnecessary hospital visits. The hospital is as empty as possible. It reminds me of films of tsunamis, when the tide goes way, way out and the beach is still, but with an incredible air of tension.
I have four kids at home, a partner who is self-isolating at his house, half my income has vanished and I’m now on call to head back to ward work (for the first time in almost a decade) whenever I’m needed. I’m completely out of my comfort zone, I have many fears about what’s to come, and I’m certainly not the only one.
This week I’ve met hospital managers who feel completely out of their depth, receptionists who are terrified of patients breathing on them, a dentist practice manager who looked white with stress behind her face mask and a fellow Occupational Therapist who has to make an impossible decision about how to continue working at the same time as protecting her high-risk family member, to name but a few.
So, whilst I’m waiting at home for whatever is coming our way, there are things I can do to help, particularly for my fellow health care professionals, but for anyone who is struggling in this situation.
Today, I want to share an exercise I learned from the amazing teachers and therapists at Brief* in London. These guys are the world’s experts in Solution Focused Brief Therapy and I was lucky enough to do some training with them last month. They started the course with this exercise, I have used it a few times since and was reminded of it by the extremely knowledgeable Evan George in his latest Facebook video. It’s an exercise that can be tremendously useful for people facing difficult times, and if ever we needed that, it’s now!
Like all Solution Focused stuff, it’s simple, but not necessarily easy. It requires some work and some concentration.
At the beginning of your working day, take a few minutes, as a team or on your own. Sit somewhere quiet, with a piece of paper and a pen, and ask yourself this question:
“If, somehow, I was to find myself at my absolute best in the coming days or weeks… How would I know? What would I notice?
Then write down 20 things you would notice, about yourself, if you were ‘at your best’.
Now write the names (or initials if you prefer) of 5 important people in your life. Then list at least 5 ways that each of them would notice that you were at your best. What would they see? What would they notice about you if you were, in-fact ‘at your best’?
It’s important that there are a lot. It’s in that concentrating to find all 20, and then all 25 that you’ll come up with the useful skills, attributes and resources that are all too easy to forget in difficult, stressful times when we are overwhelmed with a problem. Reminding yourself of your skills, attributes and resources puts you in a completely different frame of mind. It’s surprisingly empowering, it enables you to remain calm and make sensible decisions, and it's key in finding the resilience you need.
I hope you enjoy doing this, I hope it helps and please give me a call if you’d like to talk.
Look after each other,